Why it matters: The church [aka the called-out assembly of disciples] is one in essence, because it is founded on one set of good news, united to one Master and indwelt by one Spirit. Its unity is under constant threat because of the tendency to division that is inherent in fallen humanity, and needs to be continually maintained and actively expressed in fellowship.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with the Messiah. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Corinthians 12:12–13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
The way I see it: The apostle Paul also recognized the value of unity. From his own sufferings in Philippi he knew the infant church faced determined opposition. Paul warned his friends of opponents, suffering, and conflict soon to come. Paul’s central concern to the church at Corinth was also a concern of division.
Consider this: Paul expressed his concern with these words, “I appeal to you brothers, in the name of our Master Jesus the Messiah, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought”.
The bottom line: The Corinthians had formed cliques based upon the supposed superiority of various the leaders. These divisions had shattered the unity of the local congregation and created dissension. Paul’s focus here is that the division in the Corinthian church was wrong. Paul’s goal in his writing is found in the first sentence where Paul urges them to resolve their differences and restore unity in their church fellowship.
- Ephesians 2:16–18 — 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.
- John 11:52 — 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
- 1 Corinthians 12:13 — 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
- Acts 10:45–47 — 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?”
- Ephesians 2:22 — 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
- Ephesians 4:3 — 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.